MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Every Marine a rifleman: this doctrine has been ingrained into each generation of Marines from the time they stepped on the yellow footprints at recruit training.
Marines from Marine Corps Security Force Battalion have taken this creed one step further. Not only do they pride themselves in being exceptional riflemen, but they also participate in the Competition in Arms Program, a shooting tradition that has been a part of the Marine Corps since 1901.
Marines with the MCSFBN Shooting Team competed in the 2008 Marine Corps Eastern Division Rifle and Pistol Championship Matches, held at Quantico, Va., March 7 to April 4.
The Marines with the battalion trained intensely for the competition.
“Marines on our team were selected from different commands within Marine Corps Security Force Battalion,” said Chief Warrant Officer William J. Bush Jr., Dam Neck Range Detachment officer in charge, MCSF Training Company, MCSFBN, II Marine Expeditionary Force, and shooting team captain. “The team received an intense four-week training package in advanced fundamental marksmanship and combat marksmanship to prepare them for participation in the Eastern Division Rifle and Pistol Matches.”
The event includes individual and team competitions with both the rifle and the pistol.
“Not only do we get to compete individually and as a team, but we also compete in both a precision course and combat course,” Bush said.
Each team consists of a team captain, team coach, and four shooters. Of the four shooters, one must have the rank of staff sergeant or higher and one must be a first-time competitor, or “Tyro” shooter.
The final team score is a combination of the team’s precision and combat scores.
The MCSFBN Shooting Team shot against six base or station teams from Marine units around the East Coast.
In addition to the individual and team events, a separate competition is held for members of the Marine Corps Rifle Team and the British Royal Marine Rifle Team for the Inter Corps Cup.
The Marine Corps Rifle Team and the British Royal Marine Rifle Team have been competing in this venue since 1992. During this year’s competition, the British Royal Marine Rifle Team defeated the Marine Corps Rifle Team, a feat that has not been accomplished by the British Royal Marines in almost 14 years.
The MCSFBN received second place in the team rifle match against other East Coast teams. They were only three points behind the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island Shooting Team.
The top 10 percent of shooters in the individual matches receive medals. Each medal represents a certain amount of points the Marine earns toward becoming a distinguished shooter. A gold medal is 10 points, a silver medal is eight points and a bronze medal is six points. To be called a distinguished shooter, a Marine must earn 30 points. Once a shooter becomes distinguished, he can no longer receive medals.
In the individual pistol match, three members of the MCSFBN Shooting Team placed within the top 10 percent.
Cpl. Benjamin Footer with Headquarters and Service Company, placed first but didn’t receive a medal because he is already distinguished. Bush placed fifth and received a silver medal and Cpl. David Durkin with 1st Fleet Antiterrorist Security Team, placed 11th and received a Bronze medal.
“It’s a great experience because the Marines get an opportunity to discuss marksmanship techniques and learn from some of the best shooters in the Marine Corps,” Bush said.
While at the event, all competitors qualified to become Combat Marksmanship Coaches and fulfilled part of their annual requirements by qualifying with the rifle and pistol.
“Not all of the Marines may win medals, but the training and experience they receive will give them the tools to assist Marines in preparing for annual qualification and help their peers to succeed on the rifle range,” Bush said.
The Eastern Division Match is just one of four division competitions throughout the Marine Corps. There is also a Far-East Division Match in Okinawa, Japan, a Pacific Division Match in Hawaii, and a Western Division Match at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
The top 10 percent of competitors from each of the four division matches win shooting medals, earn points toward becoming a distinguished shooter and receive an invitation to compete in the Marine Corps Match held at Quantico, Va.
Marines with the MCSFBN Shooting Team will continue to aim for the gold in each competition they attend.
The competition is positive in every aspect, Bush said. The matches allow Marines to display their extraordinary skills, become combat marksmanship coaches, and pass on that knowledge to future generations.